Most consumer-grade driveway sealers are water-based emulsions containing water, clay fillers, latex, polymers, additives and either coal tar or asphalt. Some so-called “asphalt” emulsions also contain some coal tar.
Although significant improvements have been made in asphalt-based driveway sealers in recent years — the use of polymers and other additives that increase durability and resistance to oil and gas, for example — coal tar products still are most popular. According to the sealer manufacturers, coal tar sealers are more durable and much more resistant to oil or gasoline penetration than asphalt-based sealers because gasoline and oil are both sol©vents for asphalt but not for coal tar.
Asphalt-based driveway sealing products are better for air quality because they do not emit high levels of volatile organic compounds like the coal tar-based products do. They also smell better and are less of a skin irritant.
Judging The Quality Of Driveway Sealing
Both coal tar and asphalt-based products are available in plain or filled-sealer formulas. Filled sealers contain sand or other solids that fill small cracks and holes.
Driveway sealing and caulks.(asphalt, coal tar, polymers, etc.) in the formula, the better the driveway sealing quality and the more expensive it will be. You'll get what you pay for, and you get more solids in better or best-grade driveway sealers.
Comparing the various additives and solids used by different manufacturers is difficult because the formulas are considered proprietary information. The general rule is that the top-quality sealers will have the greatest amount of solids left on the asphalt after the liquids evaporate and cure.
The best way to determine quality is by the length of the warranty. Best-grade driveway sealing typically have a five to six-year warranty. Better-grade driveway sealing are generally warranted for three to four years. Plain driveway sealing will carry a warranty of one to three years. Each manufacturer has its specific prorated warranty, which is usually clearly displayed on the label.
A fourth category of driveway sealing has been developed within the last five years or so. It's best described as airport, racetrack or pavement-grade. This grade of sealer has more durable acrylic polymers and lasts longer than other formulas. Some come with a 10-year warranty.
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